We started off to the blue city of Jodhpur for a weekend trip. The train was scheduled for Friday 1500hrs Ranakpur express (arrival time in Jodhpur on Saturday was 1030 hrs) and the return journey was by the same express on Sunday at 1430 hrs. As such we had almost one and half day to go around the city .
- Mehrangadh fort ( To find out the Dark Knight Batman’s training place)
- Jaswant Thada
- Jodha Rao rock park
- Umaid Bhavan Palace Museum
- Clock tower
- Old Market
Hunger Games @
- Omelette bread at the famous road stall
- The jilebi and rabdi in Mistilal Hotel
- Janta Sweets Shop
- Mirchi vada & other local fast food at any road side stalls
- Rajasthani thali at Gypsy Hotel
- Lal-maas at Kalinga Hotel
- Antique Shopping – Lalji Handicraft at Rai ka Bagh
- Textile products like bandhej, leheriya ,silks at Maharani Arts export available at katla bazaar
- On the Rocks Hotel- Famous for Mutton Rogan Josh & barbecued dishes. There is playground for the kids and a bar for bigger kids 🙂
Do not pay more than
- Rs.220-250 for a pair of jootis,
- Rs. 100-120 for dupattas
- Rs.500-600 for leather bags.
- Wear your bargaining hat for sure.
With a packed schedule, we had very less breathing space. We managed to reach the Bandra BDTS station on time. A quick lunch at the station re-introduced us to the railway food after a long time. Things could only look better after this.
The team had Pankaj, Deepak, Mahesh & myself ‘ the free bird’.
Amongst us we had four seats in two bogeys and not a single window seat. This was going to be a long journey indeed.
Here are few things to enjoy the long journeys.
- Get down at every possible station
- Play cards (They are really costly in train)
- Buy stuff from vendors
- Walk across the length of the train ( I did once)
- Take selfies
- How I wish I had brought pen and paper
- That novel I forgot to carry
- All time favourites- listening music & watching movies ( Dont forget the charger 🙁 ).
- Put on your headphones. DONT play anything. SING your heart out .
- Eat the freaking ice cream, everytime you see one
After braving the barely edible train food we settled for the good nights sleep. Being a light sleeper , a baby crying through the night kept me awake. So i was happy for being awake at 3 am to have Rabdi at Mt. Abu Road :).
Inspite of the almost sleepless night, the sight of the last station before Jodhpur definitely elated me. “Bhagat ki Kothi” . My station. My people.
Soon enough we got the first glimpses of the Mehrangadh fort from the train. And within 5 minutes we reached the Sunshine city of Jodhpur.
The station is a jamboree of colours. Few clicks and we were on the hunt for a hotel to stay. Plenty of hotels are available besides the station at dirt cheap rates. As such there is no need to pre book. We found a good bargain at “Sinla Haveli” (Mob- 734 006 0958). 1200 for four guys and a peaceful place.
If are rich you should go to “Raas hotel “for splendour . If you are stinking rich then the place to stay would be “Umaid bhavan” for grandeur. But at Rs 300 a night we hit a jackpot 😛
After freshening up we started towards Jaswant Thada, first place for our trip.
The web of crossroads that run through the cities are very unique and the dominoes of shops for handicrafts , spices, sweets and art are bound to overwhelm you at every nook and corner.
The rickshaws available are ready to make a kill. One guy quoted us Rs 400. We bargained it to Rs 100 for 10-15 minute drive from Sojata Market to Jaswant Thada.
Jaswant Thada sits pretty beside the peaceful Devkund lake.
A quick entry fee and we were inside.
Jaswant Thada – The Taj Mahal of Marwar
There was not much rush around here, leaving this serene place to ourselves which made me really happy.
At the entrance a man in complete Rajasthjani gear played some soothing music on his ‘ Ravanhatha’, adding a hint of authenticity to the environment.
The cenotaph was built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh of Jodhpur State in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. It is adorned with portraits of many Rathore Rulers from the 13th Century.
The marble work is very delicate and can easily act as a backdrop for a photo shoot.
The peaceful start for the day could put a smile on any ones face .
The Dome reflects hints of the mughal architecture and the intricate carvings showcase the Rajasthani flavour.
The small memorial (below) was supposedly for the Maharaja’s mother
Outside the main building, there are many cenotaphs which with their white marble are beautifully perched atop the green sheets of lawn. The area in front of the palace has the cremation ground of the royal family.
In hindsight, The Jaswant Thada was much more peaceful than the heavily crowded Mehrangadh fort.
Outside the Thada, the statue of Rao-Jodhaji, the founder of Jodhpur points at Mehrangadh- the biggest attraction of Jodhpur.
Rao Jodha Rock Park
Next up we decided to walk to the Rao Jodha rock park . I hoped that it was on lines of the Chandigarh’s rock park .
The entrance tickets were very well branded.The person at the counter was fluent in English. Leading me to set very high expectations from this park. Sadly enough it was not worth our time.
The rock park has two trails and we selected the easy one since being January most of the greenery had given away to dried shrubs. The only high point being the view of the Mehrangadh fort from the Ranisar lake .
I guess we just selected the wrong time to visit this rock park. Probably couple of months back would be an apt time to visit this place.
We headed out to our main destination – Mehrangadh fort. The fort was under siege by tourists. People everywhere.
Bro Tip: Avoid visiting here on weekends.
I hate to see so many people in my view finder. But nonetheless the magnificence of the fort makes you forget everything.
Mandore was the capital of this region before Maharaja Rao Jodha decided to move the capital to this Jodhpur for better safety. No sooner was this citadel ready, Mandore was abandoned for good.
The fort rests on a 122m high rocky hill. One is awestruck by the towering walls of the fort which range upto 36m of height.
Chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda at the entrance of the fort is to commemorate his bravery in protecting the fort against the Jaipur army.
Then comes the main entrance , which is the first one of the 7 gates (called Pol ) of the fort. The main entrance was added by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to commemorate his victory over the Jaipur and the Bikaner armies.This gate is know as the Jai Pol or the Victory gate.
Besides Jai Pol is the ticket counter.
There are only two eateries in the fort. The one at the start offered snacks and was on a bit costly side for a shoe string budget. But since we had made a fool of ourselves by not carrying any food , we had to punch a major hole in our pockets. Another eatery in the fort offers proper lunch and is again on the costly side. The cost would be normal for foreigners :). Better to carry your own food and water.
With food inside us we were recharged to take on the mighty fort.
After this comes the second gate Dedh Kambra Pol. It bears the war scars made by the cannonballs. Following it is the third gate, Fateh pol ( victory gate) build by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his victory over the Mughal attack. The view of this gates from above the fort is shown below. (The gate on the left is the third gate and one towards the right is the second gate)
Back to the ground, the view on the other side reveals the exquisite palace resting over the tall walls.
The architecture is very awe-inspiring and i spotted many architecture students honing their skills trying to sketch some memories on paper.
The reddish walls towering against the white backdrops struck up an exotic appeal. Next up is Loha pol. This gate was the one where the actual fort designed by Maharaja Jodha started.
The gate bears the hand prints of the Queens who went Sati in 1843 for Maharaja Man Singh. Once through the Loha pol there is another hotel which serves some over priced food. Definitely makes you feel like a wannabe royalty. After this comes the Shrinagar Chowk which houses a brilliantly stocked museum.
The huge buildings are works of art bought to life by the medley of reddish brown and cream colour.
Before we head into the museum ,there is another room draped in white which houses the palanquins and the howdahs used by royalty.
The most beautiful of them is the domed gilted Mahadol Palanquin won in the battle from Governor of Gujrat in 1730.
Before heading into the museum, headed to another balcony for a splendid view of the city.. Found these canons here.
A look from over the parapet one can see the well from where the Dark Knight Rose in 2012 :D. Well they just used the fort as a backdrop.
One more beautiful view
Headed back to the museum. The museum has priceless relics of the Indian courtly life. And depicts the glorious days of the Rathores throughs arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.
Sheesh mahal: ( Palace of glass)
It is the bedroom for the Maharaja Ajit singh. The room has some delicate mirror work and empty spots are adorned by intricate paintings. The old ceiling has been placed on the floor.
I overheard one guide telling that the original mirror work was so optimised that a a single candle could lit up the entire room.
The next stop is the Phool Mahal The palace of flowers is a 18th century chamber built by Maharaja Abhay Singh as a hall of Private Audience. This was the room for royal party animals 😀
The room has a vibrant decor of intricate golden ceiling, floral prints on the wall in gold . Contrasting all the gold is the brilliant orange and red carpets, orange windows with stained glass work. A jamboree of colours. Should have had a brilliant jam here 😛 few centuries back.
After this we reach the Jhanki Mahal, from where the women could watch the royal proceeding in the shreenagar chowk courtyard. This was in the times when women didnt have freedom to freely roam in public. There are lot of cradles in this room, Too artsy for a new born
This was built by Maharaja Takhat Singh. Again the artsy feel was quite alive because of the colourful paintings. The light played a different ball game murdering the scene though the myriad stained glass. Few festive balloons hanging on the ceiling were a gift from the British ( overheard the same guide 😀 ) . Especially noteworthy are the lacquer paintings on the wooden ceiling. Takhat singh, a great patron of arts, was the last of Jodhpur’s Maharajas to wholly reside in Mehrangadh.
After this we had finshed the museum and reached Zenana Deodi/courtyard.
The courtyard is adorned by beautiful carvings in the lovely white sandstone. The facade over the windows are very interesting to say the least.
After this are the souvenir shops. On a tight budget, we were happy with just a glimpse.
Gopal Pol and a larger Bhairon Pol which houses several large guard rooms are the gates which i couldnt identify.
Out of the museum
From then onwards, we went to the Chamunda devi temple at the other end of the fort.
We passed through the Suraj pol , which is the final of the 7 gates. Beyond this is the Shangar Chowk or the coronation courtyard, where the kings were coronated on a special throne made of white marble. A vendor enroute selling colourful dolls
The ramparts of the fort on the extreme side has many canons in proper condition. Kilkila canon is the famous amongst them .
Moving ahead we head to the Chamundadevi mandir:
The best sunset can be enjoyed from this temple. The King Rao Jodha bought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460. This is the point from where the city actually appears blue.
Why so Blue Jodhpur?
Some of the points I heard are:
- Blue houses belonged to Brahmins who served the royal family
- Jodhpur is also known as the sun city and probably the blue was to reflect the heat and for some coolth.
One side of the city doesn’t have that blue flavour because the Mughals had destroyed it during attacks. Since the other side the city was relatively untouched by attacks it offers a real blue hue.
The sunset was really wonderful.
After this the air was becoming increasingly cold and we decided to head back. The fort had left us with so many fond memories. Enroute the hotel we headed to the see the Ghanta ghar ( clock Tower ).The clock tower shined beautifully in the night. It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh (1880-1911) from whom the market takes it name. The place was alive with so many people. The real culture was on display in the bustling market.
Our hungry tummies took us to a famous omelette shop in the Sardar market, near the watch tower. It has been recommended by many German and other European magazines. The egg-bread are a cheap bargain. We romped on it like no tomorrow. The omelettes were tasty, very much like the Anda-pav that we get in Mumbai.
Tasting the street delicacies.
From there we wandered around in the market to get some souvenirs. Not having much idea about bangles, only decided to get one for my mom for 100 bucks. Hope she likes it.
Last stop for the day we hit the Gypsy hotel for the famous veg Rajasthani Thali with 31 preparations. I like to eat spicy food as well as those dishes which tickle your unique taste buds. I also have a sweet tooth. Inspite of all that i felt that Rajasthani veggies were not upto my liking. The sweet was good and was reordered time & again. Overall i felt that the Rs 300 charged was a bit costly as i only liked the Gajar Halva.
We had a planned a lassi at another famous joint Mishtilal sweets in the market, but with a full tummy we decided to have it the next day .
Thankfully enough we reached the hotel in a rickshaw. My knee pants had left me with cold legs. On reaching the hotel a quick hot shower and putting on my -10 C fleece jacket, i felt good.
Equipped with the jacket i had to do one more thing to do . To head to the terrace and click the Mehrangad fort in all its night glory. Unfortunately enough the lights at the fort were out. How i missed on a beautiful picture.
Bro Tip- The lights on the fort are switched off at 9 pm. Complete your photography before that.
After an overnight sleepless train journey & hectic day I crashed and slept like a log.
New day. New Energy.
We started of the day at Mishtilal sweet shop. A bit odd to visit it in the morning for lassi. Enroute the hotel walking through the bylanes on an early morning gives you the feel of the unique culture and the beautiful architecture.
Walking through the bylanes we reached the Sardar market where the omelette shop was closed and we headed straight to the sweets shop. We had Jilebi, Rabdi, Mirchi Vada and the famous Makhaniya Lassi.
With a full tummy we started to the Umaid Bhavan, the last place on our itinerary.
Umaid Bhavan is set in 26 acres, of which 15 acres are garden. The palace is built in Makarana marble using two and half million quintals of ice, million meters of steel conduits, fifteen thousand running feet of copper and lead wire. The palace was commissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh. It is now a part palace and part a luxurious Hotel (since 1978).
The museum is well equipped with art deco furniture, dining and other timeless monuments.
A superb collection of antique clock rounds of a wonderful experience in the museum.
The time stands still in this palace
Outside the museum is a display of heritage cars which is a delight for a grease bug like me. There are Rolls Royce, Buick, cadillacs, Lamberts 🙂
After this we headed back to the city for the return journey. For the last lunch in Jodhpur we headed to the famous Kalinga Hotel near the railway station for having the Lal maas- the famous mutton preparation. It was a bit over rated selling a single boiled egg for Rs 80. Rs 2000 for 4 people was bit expensive and can be totally avoided.
On last stop we headed to the Famous janta shop for sweets. And on this sweet note we headed back towards Mumbai.
Moving around Jodhpur for two days cost me almost 1000 bucks if we dont include the Rs 900 i spent on the to and fro train journey from Mumbai & the 1000 rs splurged on the easily avoidable food at Gypsy and Kalinga hotel.
One last pic from Jodhpur of- what i call- the MINIONS of Jodhpur 🙂
Till next time.